If you’ve been hearing tales of Yangon’s crazy hotel prices, take a deep breath and relax. It's true that accommodation in Burma (Myanmar) is pricier than in neighbouring countries -- we like to say you'll generally be paying double Thailand rates for half the standard expected in Laos. While that's not always the case, it often is and Burma and the commercial capital, Yangon, are both home to some breathtakingly overpriced dumps. But things are changing.
With Burma changing by the day, guesthouses and hotels are improving -- in Yangon in particular -- and while rates are still high, at least the standards are rising ... somewhat. A new generation of guesthouses is popping up in the former capital to help relieve the older generation of expensive hotels and here’s our pick of Yangon's best value hotels and guesthouses, along with a couple of tips to help you cut costs.
The first step to choosing a cheap hotel in Yangon (Rangoon) is to drastically lower your expectations. It is common for electricity to go out daily during the hot season, WiFi speed is bang-your-head-against-the-router slow, and rooms may smell a bit musty even if you’re lucky enough to get one with a window. That said, most of our favourite places are already adjusting in order to provide what foreign travellers want and offer extras such as free WiFi, an included breakfast, transport booking options and laundry service; they also tend to offer air-con and private bathrooms for only an extra few dollars.
The second step is, if at all possible, to travel with a partner. The price difference between a single and a double room is often only US$2-5, which may cut your costs nearly in half if you’re sharing with a friend, so keep an eye out for other travellers looking to partner up.
The best value accommodation in downtown Yangon starts in the US$20-30 range. Our top two picks in this range are a bit away from the downtown centre but are well worth the extra walking: The Hninn Si Budget Inn (US$27) makes the top of our list, if only because of their immaculately clean bathrooms. The charming Motherland Inn 2 ($22) bumps up their value with a free daily shuttle to and from the airport, which will save you some kyat to put towards one of their cooler $25 air-con rooms.
If you are looking for a more central location, Chan Myaye Guesthouse has long been a favourite for NGO workers. It recently added a brand-new floor dedicated to dorms ($14), which are offered alongside a variety of private rooms where the price matches the amenities within ($20-35). The very well run, neighbouring Cherry Guesthouse (US$20), has less room variety but provides a longer list of comforts, though unfortunately hot water is not always on this list. If you're looking for a quieter stay, Beautyland Hotel 2 (US$25) has more of a hotel atmosphere, and is located on the same block.
If you're enchanted by local flavour, Golden Star Guesthouse ($25) will induct you into the midst of lower block downtown life. Don't be discouraged by the damp and dark stairway entrance teeming with children and foot-traffic -- you'll find one of the most comfortable beds in town here in the form of bunks (queen on bottom, single on top) inside the tight yet tidy rooms.
If you’re pinching every penny possible, the lowest priced place we can recommend in downtown is Daddy’s Home Hotel ($15). Daddy has the bare basics with no windows, but be sure to call ahead (or in the worst case, just show up), because their rooms on Agoda start at their more luxurious end -- air-con rooms with a private bathrooms.
Heading uptown near Inya Lake, if you've got more of a midrange budget, a fun and friendly choice is Bike World Bed and Breakfast ($50-65). Their high-quality bike rentals are available for their weekly tours and free night-ride Fridays. For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, a shorter walk to the lake starts at the Royal White Elephant Hotel ($55). It is half the price it would be if it was located downtown and comes with a list of amenities a mile long.
For those with a more forgiving budget who are looking for charm and character, Aung Tha Pyay Hotel ($75) has spacious rooms in their building, which has been converted into a hotel from an old brewery. East Hotel ($110), located just north of Sule Pagoda, has more of a modern boutique vibe and is one of the lowest priced high-end hotels you’ll find in the city.
While booking ahead is becoming less essential for travel to Burma than it was perhaps a year ago, Yangon and Inle Lake can still be problematic, so it can be prudent to make a reservation. If you're planning a trip to Burma, do keep an eye on our various accommodation sections for new listings and updates on already featured guesthouses.
By Christopher Smith
Last updated on 5th May, 2015.